A Favorite Childhood Gift

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts is to share about a favorite Christmas gift you received as a child. Here in the Netherlands though, Christmas isn’t that popular for gift-giving. Instead, we celebrate St. Nicholas on December 5. I can’t remember that many gifts I received for St. Nicholas and the entire celebration was one big stressor once I no longer believed in St. Nick. We celebrated it until I was 20 in 2006. Then in 2007 I was in the psych hospital and my parents didn’t want to risk inviting me. That’s how the tradition ended.

The other major gift-receiving opportunity was and still is, of course, my birthday. It is on June 27, so pretty much as far from Christmas as you get it. Still, I’m going to share about a favorite gift I received for my birthday as a child. Mama Kat twisted the prompt too by listing several things, so oh well.

I can’t remember whether I had invited anyone to a birthday party when I turned eleven. After all, I was pretty much friendless at the time. However, I did celebrate it with my family. The main gift I remember getting was a Barbie doll with aerobic attire. I named her Teresa. I loved the doll, even though I knew already that eleven was a little old to play with it.

Later that summer, my mother took me on a “mother-daughter walk”, which was mainly an opportunity for her to tell me the school had recommended I go residential there. She claimed the reason was that I had behavior problems, which she attributed to my having too many toys. I can’t follow that train of thought other than through some idea that I was so spoiled I somehow felt entitled to have tantrums. That wasn’t true, for clarity’s sake. In any case, my mother regretted having given me the Barbie doll.

I cherished Teresa even more from that moment on. When, during the following school year, I’d have a meltdown, my mother would often pack a random number of toys and claim to throw them out. (In reality, she hid them in her room downstairs.)

The followign year, when I turned twelve, I felt so ashamed for still playing with Barbie dolls that I claimed they’d aged with me, so it was okay. Most of the dolls are still with my parents, I think. I think at one point I broke Teresa’s leg though and had to actually throw her out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

12 thoughts on “A Favorite Childhood Gift

  1. I don’t really remember birthday gifts but one Christmas my grandma handed me a box with a red bow…and there was a cat inside. We had Sugar until she passed. That was my favorite gift ever.

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  2. I looked up the Netherlands Christmas traditions just to follow what you were talking about. So many neat traditions surround the holiday. My grandfather believed a girl ought to be given a doll for Christmas until age 12 and so it was. I had dolls all the ay thru 12. Especially Barbie’s. I had younger sisters, too, so we all played with Barbies together. She was more of a “teen fashion model” then a baby doll anyway, know. I purchased a “Barbie Magazine” when 4-H money I earned somewhere between 11 & 14 and that were full of stories about Barbie and photos of Barbie in settings. I tried imitating the photography, posing my Barbie here and there and photographing her, like I saw in the magazines. Maybe somewhere between 13 & 14, I just naturally drifted a way from a desire to play with any doll, even Barbie. My desire to play “Mommie with baby dolls,” went away right around 11-12, but I was interested in Barbie a bit longer, because she was more “grown-up.” I think it’s the hormone change the causes the change in interests.
    My opinion is a child ought to be allowed to play with whatever toys they enjoy until the arrival of hormones just naturally moves them away from that interest. No stigma ought to be attached.

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    1. Thank you so much for validating me. I did play with Barbie dolls well into my early teens too, but I did play imaginative stuff like house etc. with them.

      As for Christmas traditions here, it may be because I grew up without religion that other than the Christmas tree, we didn’t follow that many traditions.

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  3. The very last toy I ever received was…a Barbie, complete with 3 wigs. I was in high school at the time. And, I have her still, tucked away in the attic, still in the original box. Why my mother chose to give me that gift, at that point in my life is a bit of a mystery. Possibly to make-up for a pretty fractured childhood and bring herself some type of parental relief. She often did things like that.

    Frankly, there is no shame with reaching inside to pull out the child inside of us.

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  4. Wow, what a confusing time that had to have been for you. Do you think it was the right decision they made to go full time residential or do you think that was a mistake now looking back? I agree it feels like a reach to say too many toys might cause tantrum behavior when it sounds like that doll was actually a source of comfort. I’m glad you had Teresa for the time that you did! I bet you could find her on the internet if you wanted to repurchase her for a lovely memento.

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I didn’t end up going residential at that school, since my parents were against it. Looking back, I do understand the school had recommended it. I agree with you on it being a far stretch to say my toys caused my tantrums. In fact, I’m pretty sure that, though I did have tantrums at that age, most of my challenging behavior was due to my (then undiagnosed) autism.

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